Tag Archives: hypothermia

Caring for Hypothermia

Caring for Hypothermia

Sometimes, despite your best efforts to prevent hypothermia, symptoms can present themselves anyway, especially in small children.    Remember that hypothermia is a big deal – it’s a medical emergency that requires immediate attention by a medical professional.  Once you’ve identified hypothermia symptoms, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number and follow these steps immediately.

  • Get out of the water and get to a warm place.
  • Remove wet clothing.
  • Gradually rewarm your body by wrapping yourself in blankets or putting on dry clothes.
  • Cover your head to prevent further heat loss.
    • Be careful not to rewarm yourself too quickly.  Rapid rewarming can cause dangerous heart rhythms.
  • Drink warm nonalcoholic and decaffeinated liquids.
  • If you’re caring for someone else and they are unconscious, monitor their breathing and pulse.  Be prepared to give rescue breathing or CPR.

For more, read Basic Water Rescue, a booklet published by the American Red Cross.

Identifying Hypothermia

Identifying Hypothermia

If you’ve been unable to prevent hypothermia, there are some telltale signs for identifying hypothermia.  Usually if a member of your group is complaining that they’re cold, be sure to check their temperature.  If their temperature is below 96° Some of the signs to look for are:

  • Confusion or sleepiness.
  • Slowed, slurred speech, or shallow breathing.
  • Weak pulse; low blood pressure.
  • A change in behavior during cold weather or a change in the way a person looks.
  • Excess shivering or no shivering; stiffness in the arms or legs.
  • Poor control over body movements or slow reactions.

For more, read Basic Water Rescue, a booklet published by the American Red Cross.

Preventing Hypothermia

Preventing Hypothermia

Hypothermia doesn’t just happen in the winter or in cold water.  Hypothermia can occur in water that’s 70 degrees, so you need to be aware of hypothermia even when enjoying spring and summer water activities.  Know how to protect your troop from hypothermia by:

  • Always wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while boating on cold water.  A life jacket not only provides flotation, but it also helps the person wearing it to conserve body heat.
  • Wearing layers of insulated clothes that keep you warm even while wet, such as clothing made from wool or containing polypropylene or capilene.
  • Wearing a wet suit or dry suit during aquatic activities.
  • Wearing a hat.  Body heat is quickly lost through the head.

For more, read Basic Water Rescue, a booklet published by the American Red Cross.